Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke is an impatient man, and he continued his streak of "doing things" on New Year’s Eve as signed 2013 first round selection Emile Poirier to an entry-level contract. This makes three draft pick signings (Klimchuk, Kanzig and Poirier) and a trade since Burke turfed Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod a few weeks back.
This also means that the club has signed its first four selections in the 2013 draft (all three first rounders, plus Kanzig), leaving just Rushan Rafikov, Eric Roy, John Gilmour and Tim "Who?" Harrison left to sign before the whole 2013 Bunch is under contract.
Poirier’s signing on December 31, 2013 means that his contract can slide a year when it kicks in next season (as he signed during the calendar year he turned 19, not the calendar year he turned 20). It’s an odd little CBA quirk, but Burke got it done. Poirier turned 19 on December 14 and, despite not making Team Canada’s World Junior roster, has been having a great season. He has 53 points in 36 QMJHL games this season (his NHLE would be around 34-ish), is one of the top scorers in his league, serves as an alternate captain for the Gatineau Olympiques, and has even fought four times this season. Truculence!
With this deal done, the Flames have a contract break-down over the next little while that looks something like this:
- 2013-14: 49 contracts (although Klimchuk, Poirier, Kanzig and Sieloff all slide a year)
- 2014-15: 24 contracts (although Klimchuk, Poirier and Kanzig can all slide another year)
- 2015-16: 12 contracts
In other words, the Flames have quite a bit of flexibility, even with these deals signed.
In theory, as it stands right now, the Flames could sign five college players at the end of the season, or add five contracts through other means (e.g., trade or waiver claim). I suspect the first reason is why the team would like to retain some of this flexibility. Like with Ben Hanowski last season, it’s entirely probable that the Flames may attempt to get some graduating college seniors (such as Bill Arnold of Boston College or Kenny Agostino of Yale) or some talented under-classmen (such as Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College or Jon Gillies of Providence College) to get a taste of the NHL. In such case, I believe that the clock would begin ticking on their pro deals as soon as they landed in the bigs, so the team would need to have contract spots open for those clocks to tick.
And looking forward to the American Hockey League playoffs, it’s possible that Troy G. Ward may have some very talented reinforcements for the Abbotsford Heat. If Arnold, Agostino or Gaudreau sign, they could be assigned to the AHL following the completion of the NHL schedule. And it’s also likely that Morgan Klimchuk, Keegan Kanzig, Emile Poirier, and guys that need to be signed before June 1 like Ryan Culkin, Brett Kulak and Coda Gordon, could all end up in Abbotsford either on assignment from the Flames or on an amateur try-out (which wouldn’t impact their ELCs). I don’t think that all of these aforementioned nine prospects will be in Abbotsford, but it’s likely that a good chunk of them will.
That being said, there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played – 42 more games in the Flames schedule – but it’s worth noting the possibilities that may arise in the weeks and months (and even years) yet to unfold.